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By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
It’s Here. Masters Week.
Deep breaths – stay calm. We’ve arrived at Masters week – the most sacred four days on any golf fan’s calendar. The history of golf has unfolded at this track, and it runs through our blood to be fully engaged this week. Amen Corner’s beauty has you believing that prayers get answered as the first major championship arrives at our doorstep. The PGA Tour and LIV Golf’s best descend on Augusta National for a week of pageantry and aesthetic beauty where golf immortality is on the line.
The last exemption ticket to Augusta was not punched by anyone at the Valero Texas Open as Corey Conners triumphed and was already in the field on his world ranking. Though I came close to another outright W, the spring doldrums continued after a red-hot start for my 2023 picks. Maybe we’re just playing it like old-school Tiger and creating a crescendo as we’re peaking for major success this week. Time to look past the azaleas and cheap concessions and find ourselves a winner.
Picture Perfect Landscape
Augusta National presents like a landscape painting both on television and in real life. I finally checked off a visit to Augusta at last year’s practice rounds, and it presents even more impressively when you’re there. What immediately becomes apparent is that every shot in the bag is required to win here. Rarely is there a flat lie on the course, the undulation is 10x more daunting than it does on the TV screen, and the surfaces are as slippery as they come. Augusta has been the leading figure in course expansion to fight distance in golf, and with a further stretched out par 5 13th, the track now plays over 7500 yards in length.
There’s no need to tout the biggest names in the field because they are all there – LIV golfers included. Notable PGA Tour stars on streaks like defending champion Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm are all itching at the chance to tee it up The Masters again, while past champions Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, and more lead the cohort of LIV Tour golfers who will be here every year for life thanks to their past champions’ status. It’s a great week to watch inside-the-ropes drama, and all get a gauge on how ready these LIV Golfers are to compete without a guaranteed payout.
Forecasting the Masters
More than anything, Augusta National is a learned track. It’s no wonder you’ll find names as old Fred Couples or Bernhard Langer float on the early leaderboard – it takes time to learn the ins and outs of scoring here unless you’re Scottie Scheffler. The combo at Augusta based on recent champions and contenders has always led with the putter (specifically short putts) and been paired with a decisive game plan to attack each hole. I’ll lean heavily on guys that are good short putters, and compliant my card with familiar names that are due to don green and have come close before.
1. Who’s hot and trending – recent high finishes, top-10 streaks, and consistent play are never a bad thing.
2. Horses for courses – players love certain courses and course familiarity and experience are invaluable in a field of the world’s best.
3. What the numbers tell you this week – while I’m far from analytical, there’s always a tournament darling or two scattered across the golf talk stratosphere that stuns on paper.
4. Intangibles – while this allows for theater of the mind, there’s a mysterious optimism surrounding that feels “due” or if the price looks just right for buying.
At the Valero Texas Open, Matt Kuchar was circling the leaderboard all week and nearly had a heck of an ace on Saturday to boot. Nonetheless, his tie for third was just as I predicted he would play…but not enough for the W. Outside of Kuch I had three others on my board make the weekend and play pedestrian golf – the picks were a C+.
(Wanna start a Pick-X pool with your friends? Learn more here! Or, if you’re looking to start your own PGA One-and-Done pool, check those out here) (Hint: the main difference between the two is how many players you’ll pick each week)
1: Jon Rahm – If it’s possible, he’s coming in a little under the radar amidst the LIV golf drama and Scottie and Rory’s recent form at the Match Play. He’s regularly contending here and due for a big splash.
2: Cam Smith – Speaking of splashes, how about the highest-ranked LIV golfer in the field taking home the green jacket this week? I have a funny feeling we’ll see a LIV/PGA clash on Sunday and it could very well include Smith, who outta well on these greens. He tied for third here last year.
3: Cameron Young – I guess we’re going double Cams because it’s hard to avoid how consistently well Cam Young has played. This is a tricky course for newbies but he’s one of the few that can solve it.
4: Joaquin Niemann – My second LIV golf target this week is a younger, fiercer brand of LIV golf that seems to be in a good place in life and in golf. He plays a fearless brand of golf that should cut through the tension of the week.
5: Min Woo Lee – The Aussie has crept up the world rankings and is now a familiar sight in the world’s biggest events – time for him to thrive on a major championship stage.
6: Justin Rose: Going off at surprisingly low odds, people forget how close Justin Rose has come to a green jacket here. The Pebble Beach winner is still going along nicely and should see weekend camera time if his irons and wedges are dialed.
RYP One and Done Pick: Cam Smith
Where to watch: Golf Channel and CBS all week. Don’t forget Live from Amen Corner on streaming devices, and take a drink every time the “Augusta” piano riff drops.
Why to watch: It’s a tradition unlike any other. It’s the Masters. Also, a week of PGA Tour vs LIV drama is sure to ensue on the grounds at ANGC.
What to eat: There are two plays – take a page out of Scottie’s playbook and craft his champions dinner menu items (sliders anyone?), or just slap some pimiento cheese on white bread and go crazy.
Purse: $2.7 million
Winner’s Share: $15 million
How do PGA Golf Majors Pools work?
In PGA Golf Majors Pools, member select six golfers to compete on a roster over the course of an event. The member with the best combined score from the six golfers wins.
Can you include all four majors into one pool?
Yes, but your commissioner can also customize these setting with RunYourPool. Pools can include up to all four majors, repicking golfers each time or adding bonus points for finishing positions
How do I assemble a roster?
Golfers are broken up in to six tiers, as members select one golfer per tier to be on their Major roster.
What happens to golfers who miss the cut?
Any PGA Player who does not make the cut will be given the highest score of Round 3 and Round 4, respectively.
What are the four golf majors?
The Masters is the first major of the season, in April. The PGA Championship and the U.S. Open follow, with the British Open ending as the final major.
How do PGA One and Dones work?
Members in a pool select one golfer to win a tournament, but can't pick that golfer again for the rest of the season. The member with the best score at the end of the season wins.
What is a PGA One and Done pool?
A PGA One-and-Done Pool is a contest similar to Survivor Pools, in which members can only select a golfer one time per season for events.
Which tournaments are played for PGA One and Dones?
Pool commissioners can set up the season for as many or as few tournaments as desired. Go crazy and do all of them! Or dial it back for the major events. As commissioner of a RunYourPool contest, you decide which events to play in!
How to run a weekly golf pool?
In order to run a golf pool, you must first crown yourself as Pool Commissioner. Begin by picking a game type like One and Done or Pick-X Pools. You'll want to establish rules before inviting friends, family, and colleagues to join. As commissioner, you make the rules and also need to enforce them equally and fairly.
How do golf Pick-X Pools work?
Members select a certain number of golfers per tournament, set by the pool commissioner. The member earns the total winnings that their selected golfer won for the tournament. Whichever member earns the most winnings over the duration of the season wins.
What is a golf Pick-X Pool?
A Pick-X Golf Pool calculates tournament winnings rather than strokes gained when deciding a winner. This amplifies the big name events that feature a higher prize purse.
How to run a golf pool?
How you decide to run a golf pool varies greatly depending on the game type. In each case, however, you'll want to determine the rules and settings before you begin inviting members to join you. You'll want to clearly establish how score will be kept, how tiebreakers work, and how winners are decided before anything else.
What is a prop bet?
Prop bets are any sort of pick or wager on a game that has nothing to do with the score or the final score outcome. Props can range from game types, to team types and even player types - such as who will score the game's first and last touchdowns? Other props, such as novelty or exotic, feature bets on things such as the coin flip or the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
How do Masters Prop Bets Pools work?
Pool members simply fill out a wide range of prop questions, each question worth a different value. Commissioners decide on the point value for each question, along with the amount of questions. Whichever member earns the most points based on corret answers wins the pool.
When is the Masters?
The Masters is typically in April and the first major of the golf season. The 2023 Masters is set for Thursday, April 6 and will run until Sunday, April 9.
Where is the Masters played?
The Masters is annually held at the Augusta National Golf Club located in Augusta, Georgia, USA.